Imágenes de página

out reserve or fear, to assert its pretensions, against all opponents; to set forth its inestimable benefits, to unfold its purposes, and to urge the necessity of firmly upholding its doctrines, and making its precepts the rule of life and conversation. To swerve from this duty were to betray a most sacred trust, and to incur the fearful condemnation which St. Paul invokes upon himself, could he have been guilty of the offence, "Wo unto me, "if I preach not the Gospel"."

When we consider, however, the reason why the Apostle was not ashamed of the Gospel, namely, "that it is the power of God "unto salvation," we shall perceive that the obligation openly to avow its excellence is by no means confined to those whose especial office it is to inculcate it upon others, but extends to all who make profession of the faith. If the Christian religion be what it is represented to be, no one can be exempt from the obligation to diffuse its benefits as widely as possible. The disposition to do this seems, indeed, to be almost inseparable from a sincere persuasion of its truths.

For what is the Gospel of Christ? It is a system of mercy and truth, adapted, in all its circumstances and provisions, to such crea

a 1 Cor. ix. 16.

tures as we find ourselves to be. It addresses us as beings endowed with reason and understanding, yet continually misled by unruly wills and affections, beset by temptations from within and from without, conscious oftentimes that "the good we would, 66 we do not, and the evil we would not, that "we do;" conscious also that we have no power to deliver ourselves from this thraldom, or to avert the punishment due to every wilful offence, to every actual deviation from known duty. To creatures thus circumstanced the Gospel is expressly addressed. To those who are "weary and heavy laden"" with the burthen of sin, it offers pardon and restoration of the Divine favour; to the penitent it opens the door of reconciliation; to the faithful it addresses itself in the language of hope, of joy, of peace. It shews how, in the wonderful counsels of the Almighty, "mercy and truth, righteousness and peace have met together." It points out the way to life, and assists in the attainment of it. However humbled the believer may be from a sense of unworthiness or infirmity, it "leaves him not comfortless," it gives him strength for the conflict, it alleviates his trou


b Rom. vii. 19.

c Matth. xi. 28.

d Psalm lxxxv. 10.


bles, it soothes his sorrows, it heightens his enjoyments. At the same time, it reveals to us the Source whence these blessings are derived, and on what firm foundations our assurance of them is grounded. Our faith is built "on the foundation of the Prophets and the Apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the "chief corner stone"." "By the mystery of "His holy Incarnation, by His holy Nativity "and Circumcision, by His Baptism, Fasting, "and Temptation, by His Agony and bloody sweat, by His Cross and Passion, by His precious Death and Burial, by His glorious "Resurrection and Ascension, and by the "coming of the Holy Ghost," our deliverance from sin and misery has been effected. And WHO has thus wrought our deliverance? Even HE who, though to mortal eye compassed with human infirmity like ourselves, verified to the fullest extent the prediction of the Evangelical Prophet, that "His name "should be called Wonderful, Counsellor, "the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, "the Prince of Peacef."

[ocr errors]


What reasonable being would submit to the imputation of being ashamed of a religion like this? Or who can hesitate in acknowledging it to be "worthy of all ac

e Ephes. ii. 20.

f Isaiah ix. 6.

"tation ?" Does it not recommend itself throughout to our most anxious hopes and desires? Is it not adapted precisely to those wants and exigencies which we find most urgent, and for which no other system has ever made provision? Look to the ransom it provides for us, the helps it holds out to us, the promises of life and immortality, the means of being raised from the death of sin to the life of righteousness;-and say, whether these are not privileges to boast of and to rejoice in; privileges, for which our thankfulness to the Giver should be testified, by


telling of His salvation from day to day?". To all who are partakers of these benefits is addressed that warning of the Old Testament, "Them that honour me, I will ho66 nour; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed":"-and that of our Lord himself, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of "me and of my words, of him shall the Son "of man also be ashamed, when He cometh "in the glory of the Father with the holy angelsi."


Nevertheless, there ever has been, and there ever will be, a disinclination in fallen man to receive these truths in their full extent. They call forth humiliating reflections.

1 Tim. i. 15. h 1 Sam. ii. 30. i Mark viii. 38.

They presuppose the weakness and the guilt of man. They regard him as naturally incapable of attaining that knowledge and that happiness to which he most ardently aspires. The Gospel lays low every lofty imagination, and suffers not the conceit of intellectual or of moral excellence to exalt itself against "the wis"dom that is from above." Where the heart or the understanding has taken a wrong bias, it peremptorily enjoins the submission of both to an authority from which there is no appeal. In all ages and in all countries, whether under refinement or barbarism, these essential characteristics of Revealed Religion have occasioned impediments to its reception. For it is not only upon highly cultivated minds that this effect has been produced. Pride may accompany ignorance as well as learning; and prejudice may be equally stubborn in the one case as in the other. The devotee of the grossest superstition may glory in his error and despise the proffered truth, no less pertinaciously than the philosopher who will worship nothing but the idol of his own creating. Various circumstances also may concur to add strength to these prepossessions. When Christianity was first promulgated to the world, it had to demolish the strongest holds that error can occupy in the human

« AnteriorContinuar »